This interesting surname has three possible origins; firstly, it may be a topographical name or occupational name of Anglo-Saxon origin, for someone who lived or worked at a barn, deriving from the genitive case or plural of the Middle English "barn", a development of the Olde English pre 7th Century "bern", meaning barn, granary. The placename Barnes, on the Surrey bank of the Thames in West London, has the same origin, and some bearers may be members of families hailing from there. Secondly, it may be of Anglo-Saxon and Old Norse origin, and is the name borne by the son or servant of a berne, a term used in the early Middle Ages for a member of the upper classes. It derives from the Olde English "beorn", Old Norse "barn" meaning young warrior. Barne was occasionally used as a given name from an Olde English, Old Norse byname, and some examples of the surname may derive from this use. Thirdly, it may be of Irish origin, an Anglicized form of the Gaelic "O'Bearain", descendant of Bearan, a byname meaning spear. In the modern idiom the name has several spelling variations including: Barniss, Barnish, Bernes and Barnes. London Church Records list the marriage of Christopher Barnyshe who married Suzanne Curteis on May 7th 1571 at St. Dionis Backchurch, whilst John Barnes married Joane Bowes on September 16th 1539 at St. Mary Woolnoth. Barnabie Barnes was an early emigrant to the New World, leaving London on the "Transport" in July 1635, bound for Virginia. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Philip de Bernes, which was dated 1250, in "Sir Christopher Hatton's Book of Seals of Surrey", during the reign of King Henry 111, known as "The Frenchman", 1216 - 1272.
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